Five years for YMMiFF

Annual festival continues to attract filmmaking talent

By THERESA WELLS, Connect Contributor

Fort McMurray Filmmakers Association Members and YMMiFF Organizers Toddske Hiller, Misty Oakes, Tito Guillen, Ashley Laurenson and Steve Reeve Newman. PHOTO: Katinka Kleppe.

Fort McMurray Filmmakers Association Members and YMMiFF Organizers Toddske Hiller, Misty Oakes, Tito Guillen, Ashley Laurenson and Steve Reeve Newman. PHOTO: Katinka Kleppe.

Bringing international film shorts and longer-length features to Fort McMurray once again, the Fort McMurray International Film Festival (YMMiFF) celebrated its fifth anniversary on the Labour Day weekend.

From September 4 to 6 the Keyano Recital Theatre was filled with film fans and festival attendees taking in the three-day event. The YMMiFF was created to bring quality film from around the world to the Wood Buffalo region, while also providing an opportunity for local filmmakers to both showcase and develop their skills.

Tito Guillen, one of the founding members of the Fort McMurray Filmmakers Association and organizers of the YMMiFF, said this about the impact of the festival: “There’s a sense of accomplishment having the filmmaking community grow over the last five years in Fort McMurray. I’m very happy to know that we’ve helped nurture some amazing talent that have gone on to study film and other artistic ventures.”

The festival has consistently attracted film entries from around the world, vying for both the prizes and new audiences for their creative efforts.

“The fifth year is a magic number for film festivals. I’ve heard the advice, ‘Don’t apply for film festivals that are younger than five years’ given, even at one of our own workshops on the weekend, and it’s a good piece of advice,” said Ashley Laurenson, once an attendee at the YMMiFF and now an event organizer

“The fifth year is a magic number for film festivals. I’ve heard the advice, ‘Don’t apply for film festivals that are younger than five years’ given, even at one of our own workshops on the weekend, and it’s a good piece of advice,” said Ashley Laurenson, once an attendee at the YMMiFF and now an event organizer. “If you’re applying to festivals, you want to apply to established ones that have passed the test of time. I truly believe the Fort McMurray International Film Festival can only get bigger and better from here now.”

The intimate nature of a film festival in a smaller community provides the opportunity for special moments.
“My favourite moments are seeing new filmmakers seeing their art on the big screen, sometimes for the first time. I love to see filmmakers visiting the region during the festival and knowing they’ll bring amazing stories of the Fort McMurray hospitality and natural beauty of the region back home with them. And I love to see people sharing connections both old and new on the red carpet each year,” said Steve Reeve Newman, also a festival organizer.

Along with YMMiFF founding member Toddske Hillier and fellow organizer Misty Oakes, the organizers of the YMMiFF see a strong future for the festival in coming years, based on the success and enthusiastic support it has experienced in the region.

Says Laurenson: “The future for the YMMiFF is a bright one. We’ve been in recent talks about possibly expanding it, what kind of workshops (like the incredible one by Cody Bown this year) we could be putting together, the next step for the 48hr film challenge… I feel like five years is the tipping point into something extraordinary for our community.”

She continues, “I also would like to add that I’m so grateful to Todd and Tito for getting this thing off the ground, and then pulling Steve, Misty and I on board, and a huge thanks to our community who have shown us support over the years. And to those who haven’t come out before, we hope to see you at the YMMiFF 2016.”

– Connect Weekly –